Donegal was officially named the coolest place on the planet at the end of 2016; and now we’ve also earned the title ‘Ireland’s hidden gem’!

Donegal topped the ‘cool list’ compiled by National Geographic; beating the entire continent of North America, Peru, and Greenland. The influential travel magazine admired the natural architecture of our coastline, our surfing beaches, and the rugged ‘undiscovered’ nature of our county. The filming of scenes for ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ in Malin Head also contributed to making Donegal look so ‘cool’ in the eyes of National Geographic adventurers.

A reader survey conducted by the Irish Independent named Donegal as Ireland’s hidden gem, with Saint John’s Point, Slieve League, and The Poisoned Glen in Dunlewey getting special mentions.

Travel editor for the Irish Independent Pól Ó Conghaile says that “as we worked through the results however, one word kept repeating: Donegal.”

“It was rarely mentioned as a single hidden gem, but rather was absolutely overflowing with them — Fanad Lighthouse, Gola Island, Ards Forest Park and the Grianán of Áileach to name but a few.”

Thousands of people from across Ireland took part in the survey, with one reader saying that  “[Donegal is] hidden in plain sight, but it has the best of everything Ireland has to offer. Wild scenery, warm locals, outdoor pursuits, top hospitality. And you’ll have the whole place to yourself! Absolutely worth the long journey north.”

The judges for the awards included esteemed Irish food writer John McKenna, Failte Ireland Communications Manager Alex Connolly and Francis Brennan of RTE’s ‘At Your Service’.

National Geographic and the Travel Awards have just told the people of Donegal what they already know; our county is spectacular!


To see the full list of winners of the Reader Travel Awards for 2017 you can click here.